When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states could decide for themselves whether to allow gambling, who celebrated first? It’s hard to know. Most major sports leagues felt states should allow gambling. That way, they could tax it and regulate it. All the major sports leagues in the United States believed they could benefit from the legalization of gambling. However, there was one sports league that had misgivings. Its hesitation is because it has already faced scandals. Major League Baseball has a history of game fixing. People connected to the league aren’t so sure it should participate in gambling.
The Supreme Court Ruling
Until May 2018, the major sports leagues avoided gambling like the plague. That was because of a law passed by Congress in 1992. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) forbid gambling on sports in the United States. Only four states were exempt. Nevada was the only state to allow single sports betting at the time. The law remained on the books for 26 years. However, with the advent of electronic media, daily fantasy sports leagues flourished. This, in effect, became a way to gamble. New Jersey challenged PASPA in court. The argument it made was that states had the right to control commerce within their borders. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed. The justices ruled states had the right to make their own decisions about gambling. Since the ruling, eight states have legalized gambling. In addition, all the major league teams have made gambling agreements with large companies.
The Black Sox Scandal
One hundred years ago, baseball saw the biggest scandal in its history. At that time, a grand jury brought charges against eight members of the Chicago White Sox. It said a mobster named Arnold Rothstein paid them to lose the 1919 World Series. The scandal loomed large and resulted in the appointment of a baseball commissioner. At the time, people felt if baseball had a commissioner, there would never have been a gambling scandal. A judge acquitted the men of all the charges. However, they were never allowed to play baseball again. And, as a result, they’ll never be eligible for the Hall of Fame.
The most talented player on the banned team was Joseph “Shoeless Joe” Jackson. Jackson claimed he played no part in the scandal. Because he was illiterate, he said he didn’t understand what was going on. However, the commissioner didn’t agree and banned him for life. The Chicago White Sox would not win a World Series for another 40 years.
The second scandal involving baseball took place in 1989, 70 years after the first one. Pete Rose was arguably one of the greatest players in baseball history. He admitted he had placed bets on baseball. Not only did he bet on baseball as a player, but he also bet as a manager. He bet on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds. Rose, a World Series winner, also won batting titles, Golden Gloves, and was a 17-time All-Star. He was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. However, like the men from the Black Sox Scandal, Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball. While the Black Sox went away quietly, Rose has been very vocal. He says that regardless of his gambling, he deserves to be in the Hall.
Major League Baseball has some misgivings about gambling. However, the organization is going forward with the deal it struck with MGM Resorts. This is a company that has a lot of experience with gambling. The MLB has also hired a company to monitor the integrity of the game. After two large scandals, the league realizes integrity is important to profits.
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